May 18, 2007
Towards the end of the last round of chemo treatments, a friend of mine called me to see if I could lead worship for the youth group at his church. The guy that had been leading had suddenly stepped out and they were looking for someone else to step in.
I had just been cleared to be around large groups of people again by the doctor, so medically, I was able to be there. Spiritually and mentally I wasn’t too sure about it.
I was at ease playing guitar, but singing, by myself? When we traveled I would lead by myself, singing and playing, from time to time, but not on a regular basis. I was honored to be asked, but was I comfortable doing this by myself – with no band?
The answer was a resounding no… but surprisingly, I didn’t give that as my response. I told my friend yes.
Now, I was seeing a little more clearly. The lungs that had been covered with tumors – that God had cleansed and restored – were available to sing for His glory. The lungs I was hesitant to use before because I was scared, had been saved – for a purpose – and I wasn’t about to give up hope now.
The peace God had covered me with was not just for me to make it. The strength He had given me had not just been to get me through the process. The reason He restored my body was for me to live – really live. Here. Now.
The realization was amazing, I saw a part of His plan for my life and the next step.
Over the next few months as my hair began to regrow, I started working with the youth group in my friend’s church. After a while a few students expressed interest in playing or singing with me. God was using me to give others an opportunity to grow their gifts. It was a great time and the beginning of a new part of my life.
In addition to that, a friendship that had been lost for some time was renewed. Through another friend, I connected with a new group of friends that really surrounded me and helped me to heal.
Looking back, there was one important relationship I wish had been restored. Someone I loved very dearly. I wish I could have seen it then.
Nonetheless, God was gracious to me, and continues to be to this day. I give Him my thanks, my praise for His amazing love and for new life. He restored my spirit long before sickness tried to consume my body – and when it did, He didn’t stop with my spirit, He healed my body too.
The doctors to this day say that it had to be God. I was a goner – dead man walking… but God…
May 13, 2007
The third week they began giving me the last of the three chemo drugs and the one they were most concerned about. Apparently this was strong stuff at normal levels – but I was getting double doses – more than they had ever pushed through someone’s heart before.
The really amazing thing, the thing that really makes this a God-story, is that I never stayed a night in the hospital through this entire process. Others with the same type of cancer who were diagnosed at lower stages were laid-up in the hospital. The doctors said the chemo would make me very sick and extremely weak, after all, it was poison they were using to kill the cancer. Yes, I lost my hair, but the prognosis the doctors gave, never came true.
My body didn’t get weak or sick. I started eating like a horse and following a healthier diet that an Amish man had given me. We had heard that he had Godly wisdom about sickness and disease so we wrote him about my condition asking for his help. He replied a short time later with a list of what-to and what-not-to eat specific to this type of disease.
Some days, after getting out of 7 or 8 hours of chemo, I even had time to do some freelance work. I couldn’t be around large groups of people, because of my low white blood cell count, but through it all I was able to move around, get out and drive on my own. Just weeks before the doctors had shaken their heads and said I was almost dead.
Even though I wasn’t laid up in a hospital bed in a room by myself, this was one of the loneliest times in my life.
All of my friends and family were there in the beginning, surrounding me with their support. My mom would have been there the entire time, supporting me all the way, but every time I turned around she was just starring at me, which weirded me out a little (love you mom 🙂 ). A few of my friends even came with me to sit through part of a session of chemo when I started. One friend ran a marathon on my behalf and collected pledges to donate to a cancer research organization. I was honored, grateful and encouraged.
As the weeks and months went on, the crowds dwindled, and got back to the busyness of life.
So there I was, in Fall again, the time when my story seemed to be shaken up. I would like to say that I had great revelations of my purposes in life, that everything came into focus. Yes, God had given me unbelievable peace and I knew I was in his hand, but the big realizations didn’t come until afterward.
Maybe the time by myself was what I needed, to think and pray – to be ready for what lay ahead. A chance to slow down and rest.
While I feel now that I should have seen it then, I didn’t. In the midst of it, before the clouds cleared, and the new dawn came into view, I felt very, very alone…